Last week, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), along with Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), introduced bipartisan legislation to provide a temporary stopgap to quickly address our nation’s shortage of doctors and nurses. The Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act would recapture 25,000 unused immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 unused immigrant visas for doctors that Congress has previously authorized and allocate those visas to doctors and nurses to help in the fight against COVID-19.
“The U.S. Department of Labor previously declared a shortage of nurses, reinforcing the need for support from trained professionals from other countries. This is especially true in rural parts of our country that are too often overlooked. This bipartisan legislation will help ensure nurses can get visas to come the United States to temporarily fill that shortage as we continue to combat the coronavirus pandemic, the growing opioid crisis, and other significant health challenges,” said Senator Young.
“One-sixth of our health care workforce is foreign-born. Over the course of this pandemic, immigrant nurses and doctors have played a vital role in our health care system and their contributions have undoubtedly saved countless lives,” said Senator Durbin. “It is unacceptable that thousands of doctors currently working in the U.S. on temporary visas are stuck in the green card backlog, putting their futures in jeopardy and limiting their ability to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. This bipartisan bill strengthens our health care workforce and I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for joining me in introducing this bill.”
Specifically, the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act:
• Recaptures unused visas from previous fiscal years for doctors, nurses, and their families
• Exempts these visas from country caps
• Requires employers to attest that immigrants from overseas who receive these visas will not displace an American worker
• Requires the Department of Homeland Security and State Department to expedite the processing of recaptured visas
• Limits the filing period for recaptured visas to 90 days following the termination of the President’s COVID-19 emergency declaration